Taoiseach, Dont Cancel Easter - Tóibín
Aontú Leader Peadar Tóibín TD launched a campaign today with other TDs and Senators calling on the government “Not to Cancel Easter”. Speaking at Leinster House An Teachta Tóibín stated;
“Religious practice is a human right according to the UN Declaration of Human Rights. It is an essential element in the lives of many many people in Ireland. Religious practice plays a significant roll in the wellbeing of many people in these dark times.
Ireland is one of hand full of countries in the world where a person of faith cannot attend religious services. Since the start of Covid-19, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens have taken a radically more restrictive policy against the holding of Church Services than any other country in the world except North Korea and Saudi Arabia. We have the ridiculous situation where a priest has been fined €500 in Cavan for holding a church service. Yet Stephen Donnelly is on the record of the Dáil on the 22nd of October stating that the holding of a religious service is not a penal offence. More confusion was pilled on this slip shod government approach today when a Judge in the High Court gave the state two weeks to clarify whether a religious service is a penal offence or not.
We understand the damage to health and life that has been wrought by Covid and the government’s handling of it. Ireland has had the longest and most severe lockdown of any other EU country. Government policy in terms of travel, Nursing Homes, health care capacity, inoculation and all Ireland Cooperation has led to much of the devastation that has happened in this country. No one is disputing that Covid-19 is a serious threat to the well-being of the Irish people, however Churches are often by far the largest buildings in a town. It is possible for a number of people socially-distanced to attend religious services safely.
The death of a family member is one of the rawest emotional times that any one of us will experience. Funerals are incredibly difficult at the best of times but in Covid they are a disaster for many. But at the moment, attendance at a funeral, even for a family member can be a lottery. Priests are forced to turn family members away at the doors of Church. This is incredible considering that a shop across the road can often have three or four times this number buying non essentials such as crisps and wine.
Despite our asking, Nphet has refused to state what are the risks associate with church services and funerals. Indeed when asked on Radio last week a member of Nphet stated “its not the issue itself but the message that it sends out to people in terms of movement”. Treating adults like children with illogical restrictions will result in people not adhering to restrictions at all. Its clear that in the last few weeks the Government is losing the people on restrictions. We are asking the government to allow people to safely attend services around Ireland this Easter”.